http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/inverness-man-rock-star-overseas-english-students

Untuk kali kedua berada di salah satu koran Amerika ..masih berkaitan dengan pembelajaran dengan native speaker.. baca pendapatnya tentang kondisi kota pekalongan  dan kualitas guru berdasarkan pengalamanya berbicara dengan beberapa guru bahasa inggris indonesia… tidak semua benar tapi bisa menjadi dorongan untuk meningkatkan profesionalitas guru bahasa inggris dalam pendidikan.

Inverness man is ‘rock star’ to overseas English students

Conducts readings of Bible via Skype

By Nancy Kennedy
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm (Updated: April 13, 10:09 pm)

INVERNESS — Using a simple headset, the software program Skype and a Bible, 58-year-old John Warnken has risen to rock-star status, at least to 38 students at a Christian school in a rural village in Indonesia.

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Dave Sigler
John Warnken, 58, works out of a computer room at First Church of God in Inverness. From that room, Warnken reaches across the world using Skype, an Internet phone service, to talk to children in a rural Indonesian village. Using his English skills, he reads Christian scripture to 38 students in a country that is mostly Muslim.

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Dave Sigler
John Warnken, 58, works out of a computer room at First Church of God in Inverness. From that room, Warnken reaches across the world using Skype, an Internet phone service, to talk to children in a rural Indonesian village. Using his English skills, he reads Christian scripture to 38 students in a country that is mostly Muslim.

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Dave Sigler
John Warnken, 58, works out of a computer room at First Church of God in Inverness. From that room, Warnken reaches across the world using Skype, an Internet phone service, to talk to children in a rural Indonesian village. Using his English skills, he reads Christian scripture to 38 students in a country that is mostly Muslim.

Skype is a computer program that allows users to make phone calls over the Internet, complete with video.

For the past four years, the Inverness resident has been providing conversational English practice for students.

Now it’s become his full-time passion, and he’s looking for others to grab a headset and their computer and do the same.

“It’s amazing how much in demand the English language is as spoken by Americans,” Warnken said. “They’re nuts to hear us talk because they’ve been taught by people who don’t speak English as their first language, and their teachers speak broken English and bad English.”

He added they love to hear various accents as well.

Because of the 12-hour time difference between Florida and the coastal village in central Java, Warnken also prerecords his reading of the Bible and uploads it, along with an image of the printed text, to YouTube and Facebook, where the students can access it any time.

“I don’t like to use video because the Internet connection there is so bad and calls get dropped,” he said. “Also, video distracts from listening. The audio, the listening, is the important part; they don’t need to see you, so you can stay as anonymous as you want.”

Warnken currently works with Endang Palupi, the teacher at the Christian school, whom he met four years ago through the Website italki.com, a social network that connects language students and teachers.

“She read my profile and asked if I would prepare some Christian-based lessons based on the Bible,” he said. “I was puzzled at first, but then I realized that even though she works in a Christian school, she’s Muslim and knows nothing of the Christian Bible.”

The students access the video and as they read the Bible passages on the screen they hear Warnken reading it. Then they repeat what they’ve heard.

Warnken said it’s not preaching doctrine, but simply reading the text.

“Indonesia as a country is 20 to 25 years behind the United States, and this is a very remote area,” Warnken said. “The Internet is brand new to them.”

In addition to helping Indonesian students with conversational English, Warnken also teaches seniors how to use computers at the East Citrus Community Center in Inverness.

“I had a heart attack five and a half years ago and as I was recuperating I started volunteering,” he said. “Teaching seniors is difficult; they don’t learn the way kids learn and it’s hard for them. When I first started and saw they weren’t having any fun, one day I got them all on Skype and I got this Chinese guy who wanted to hear them talk. They got to say, ‘Hi, my name is’ and ‘I’m retired from’ and I could see the lightbulbs going off in their heads — somebody wanted to hear them talk! Suddenly, they had a reason to learn.”

He said when the seniors he teaches get excited, when they find that the technology they’re struggling to learn has a purpose, they’re motivated to learn.

“All you need is a clear voice, and you need to talk slowly,” he said. “It really is a gratifying experience because they treat you with such reverence. I’m like a rock star over in that little community. They’ve given me the keys to the city; I’ve talked to the mayor; I’ve been on the radio and the newspaper. I even gave the commencement speech for the high school graduation via Skype.”

In an e-mail, Indonesian teacher Endang Palupi wrote: “John help me and students how to do the real conversation that we never done before. Actually Indonesian learner have good in grammar and understand what they saying in English but they have problem to give the respond or how to express it in spoken.. John help us to practice it. Need to be patient to teach Indonesian learners like us. American English more commonly here as we listen lot of American movies and songs.”

Warnken said it would benefit the students to hear different voices speaking the language, as well as benefit the ones who do the speaking.

“They don’t need to be just exposed to me,” he said. “We’ve got a community full of seniors who spend time on their computers playing games or forwarding silly e-mails. Why not give them something of value to do?”

To learn more about helping international students practice conversational English, call John Warnken at (352) 464-4949.

Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy can be reached at (352) 564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

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